A SCHEME which obliged hospital casualty units to share patient information with the police has led to a significant reduction in the number of victims of violence attending Wirral's Accident and Emergency department.

The emerging data has shown that nearly three-in-ten Wirral assaults were found to have happened in just one area - Birkenhead centre - allowing police to target resources there.

The Government in 2010 pledged to ensure hospitals shared data with local police forces to help map and tackle violent crime.

Wirral has helped to establish "one of the leading national examples" of A&E data sharing, co-ordinated by Liverpool John Moores University.

Arrowe Park Hospital reception staff record details of assaults during the admissions process and anyone arriving with an injury caused by violent assault is taken through a series of automated questions.

This gathers anonymous details about the nature, location and number of people involved in the assault as well as alcohol consumption.

Anonymous hospital data is shared with Liverpool John Moores University, which collates similar information from police, fire and ambulance services.

This helps to identify crime "hotspots" and highlights at-risk groups.

Since launching the programme in 2002, Arrowe Park Hospital has seen a significant reduction in A&E admissions relating to violent crime.

Alcohol-related assault attendances fell by 41% and admissions relating to assault fell by one-third over a five-year period.

The latest statistics for the year to June 2012 provided police with accurate intelligence on violent crime that might otherwise have gone unreported.

Nearly three-in-ten assaults were found to have happened in just one area, Birkenhead centre, allowing for more effective targeting of police resources.

Chris Oliver from the hospital Trust said: “We’re delighted with the success of the A&E data sharing project. It’s owned by everyone within the department.

“The reception staff are very pro-active when going through the questions and the automated system makes it simple and quick to capture the data.

“It's very rewarding for our staff to see the reduction in people coming into the department. It's a win/win."